London’s new US embassy: a very diplomatic America on Thames

By Rowan Moore

London's new US embassy may be just a glass cube with disguised fortifications, but it is also restrained, efficient, green… the antithesis of Donald Trump

“A giant, translucent bladderwrack”, “a high security Travelodge”, “a glass box covered in shite”. Within hours of its unveiling my tweeting colleagues in the architectural press have chosen to be particularly unkind to the new US embassy (which President Trump may or may not inaugurate at the still mysterious date when he comes to Britain) in Nine Elms, south-west London. In this they follow the tepid response its competition-winning designs received when they were unveiled in 2010. Its detractors then were said to include dissenting members of the competition jury, Lord (Richard) Rogers and the property developer Lord Palumbo, who opposed the choice of the young-ish winning practice, KieranTimberlake. They would have preferred the winner to be one of Rogers's fellow winners of the Pritzker prize – Thom Mayne of the Los Angeles practice Morphosis, or the New York-based Richard Meier or Pei Cobb Freed.

Well, perhaps my expectations have been lowered by exposure to too much dross, but I find it hard to match this level of scorn. There are other buildings that deserve it more, several of them in the embassy's immediate vicinity. There are even aspects of the building – again this might be a reflection of parched times – for which to be grateful.

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